The prolific David Carradine, 72, was found dead in a Bangkok hotel room earlier today in an apparent suicide. The actor — who, did you know, was nominated for an Oscar in 1976, for his starring role in the Woody Guthrie biopic Bound for Glory? — was, with his sly crinkly eyes and seemingly permanently gray wild-man hair, always in on the joke (even if it wasn’t the same joke as the movie or TV show he was acting in at the time).
So when Tarantino, in his show-offy way, cast the underappreciated-except-by-hardcore-film-junkies Carradine in title role of Kill Bill, the match was perfect. As Bill, Carradine was granted the time and space to marinate in his own persona — a presence that always seemed equal parts wise and untrustworthy.
I remember him fondly as an unapologetic Cole Younger in Walter Hill’s underrated The Long Riders (opposite half-brothers Robert and Keith), and secretly a better hero than we deserved in the kitschy, cynical, brilliant Death Race 2000. He was most recently seen onscreen as “Poon Dog”, in Crank 2: High Voltage.